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Introduced in 2014 and dubbed the ‘charity-gagging law’, the Lobbying Act provides a set of rules for charities that publicly campaign in the run-up to elections [Image: Getty].


We knew this would happen when the so-called Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act was imposed on the UK, back in 2014. It was labelled the “Gagging Act”, for crying out loud!

And we had hard evidence of it in February 2015 – more than two years ago, when John Pring of Disability News Service wrote: “Disability organisations have been intimidated by new lobbying laws – and the risk of losing government contracts – into failing to campaign on key issues like social care and welfare reform in the run-up to the general election, say disabled campaigners.

“They fear that the “sinister” impact of last year’s Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act [also known as the ‘Gagging’ Act], and the trend towards funding charities through government contracts to provide services, are ‘closing down all debate’.”

I remember attending meetings with my MP, who at the time was the Liberal Democrat Roger Williams. He made promise after promise to stand up for free speech – to our faces – then went back to Westminster and told us that cosmetic changes made by the Conservatives meant there was nothing to worry about.

We all knew that wasn’t true, and in the 2015 general election Mr Williams was replaced…

By a Conservative!

Local politics is insane. And the “Gagging Act” has been given free rein to live up to its name.

Labour has vowed to repeal it – but Labour is not in office, due to bizarre decisions by the voting public in June this year. Perhaps it’s time to vote sanely?

More than 100 charities have warned that they are being gagged by controversial government legislation that they claim is preventing them from campaigning on issues affecting the poorest and most marginalised groups in society.

An open letter signed by 122 organisations including Save the Children, Greenpeace and Christian Aid says campaigning is being “lost” from public debate due to the “draconian” requirements of the Lobbying Act.

Dubbed the “charity-gagging law”, it dictates what charities can do publicly in the 12-month run-up to elections in order to ensure individuals or organisations cannot have an undue influence over the vote.

Given the possibility of a snap election, charities say they are not able to carry out political campaigns now for fear of being hit with retrospective fines.

Read more: More than 100 charities claim they are being gagged by anti-lobbying rules


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